A 300-Year-Old Art Form Revived!

O’siyo. “Joshua Madalena believes that Jemez black-on-white pottery is the original art form of the Jemez Pueblo people…The pottery was used, based on archaeological findings, from about 1300 to 1700 AD throughout the Jemez Mountain range and surrounding areas, before being extinguished by Spanish occupation of modern day New Mexico.” H. McKosato-ICTMN

Discussion Questions for this post

Joshua Madalena with 'Best Of Show' replica pottery of Cliff Palace. Photo taken at Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, CO. Credit- ICTMN

Joshua Madalena with ‘Best Of Show’ replica pottery of Cliff Palace. Photo taken at Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, CO. Credit- ICTMN

Excerpt: This Art Form Disappeared for 300 Years… By Harlan McKosato ICTMN

“Madalena, who is currently serving his third one-year term as governor of his pueblo and is also a religious leader in the community, made the hard choice of reviving this ancestral art form in the early 1990’s. After much trial and error, he successfully rediscovered the process that had been lost for nearly three centuries. In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Allan Houser Legacy Award at the Santa Fe Indian Market for his contributions to the Native art world.”

Joshua Madalena painting with yucca brush. Credit- ICTMN

Joshua Madalena painting with yucca brush. Credit- ICTMN

ICTMN: What gives Jemez black-on-white pottery its special meaning and significance to your people?

JM: It is the pottery of the ancestors. It was the dominant art form for 400 years, and survived without change during that time. Contemporary art changes from one generation to the next, but Jemez black-on-white pottery didn’t change for 400 years.

ICTMN: What happened back in history that forced this art form to become wiped out?

JM: Jemez black-on-white pottery was one of the casualties of the oppression by Spain during their conquest of the Southwest (after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680).

Santa Fe Indian Market 2012 First Place Water Jar, 12 in. x 14 in. Black-on-White Ancestral pottery traditions. Credit- ICTMN

Santa Fe Indian Market 2012 First Place Water Jar, 12 in. x 14 in. Black-on-White Ancestral pottery traditions. Credit- ICTMN

Frog bowl. Credit- ICTMN

Frog bowl. Credit- ICTMN

ICTMN: What made you decide to revive this art form and bring it back from extinction?

JM: … This culture, these stories, needed to be brought back. I asked the elders but there was no memory about this art. I started visiting museums and collections in Santa Fe and throughout the Southwest in the early 1990’s. It was a very complex process. It took over 10 years.” 

“Jemez black-on-white pottery had been gone for 300 years. It needed to be reborn because I needed to find the identity of our people. I needed to find where I stood in this world and where my place was on Earth during these times.” ~Joshua Madalena~ Jemez Artist

Discussion Questions for this post
  1. How old is this art form?
  2. Why had the Jemez art form disappeared?
  3. Why did Joshua Madalena revive this art form?
  4. How long did it take Madalena to gather the information  to begin the process of creating the Jemez pots?
  5. When did  Madalena know that he had successfully revived this traditional art form?